How Mice & Other Pests React to Weather and Natural Disasters
By : Rita Stadler
Extreme weather and natural disasters have a broader impact than you may realize. Not only do they impact people, but unexpected weather conditions can also disrupt the lives of insects and animals in the area. This means they may end up in places outside of their natural habitat while looking for shelter, food, and water. People who are affected by the damage and destruction following wildfires, floods, extreme temperatures, and the like are often the most susceptible to pest infestations during this time as well.
Cleaning up, repairing, and rebuilding after something like this happens is challenging enough, but pest control, though not the highest priority, is also important to consider. Eliminating unwanted rodents and insects from homes is important to help keep inhabitants safe.
How These Events Can Affect Pests
All of us have the same basic needs, critters included! That means food, water, and shelter are all needed to keep rodents, insects, and animals alive. We follow patterns to meet these needs. Just as your daily life is interrupted by sudden disturbances like weather changes and natural disasters, animal activity is impacted, too. An extended drought or sudden drop to freezing temperatures may disrupt food supplies. Wildfires, hurricanes, or floods cause damage to homes and destroy habitats, which then cause critters to look for immediate shelter.
Damaged property becomes easily accessible for displaced rodents and other animals seeking a new place to nest. Excessive debris and disruptions in municipal sanitation services can create insect breeding grounds, leading to an onslaught of bugs and other pest problems around homes.
Changes in Weather Patterns
Understanding the similarities we share and how animals and insects react to different weather-related events can help you predict and prevent harmful bug and rodent infestations.
For example, when temperatures rise and get extremely hot, you may find yourself drinking more water and seeking shelter to stay cool. Similarly, common pests like rats and mice will try to cool down by moving indoors – particularly into basements, garages, and other cool, damp places. They may seek water from new sources such as garden irrigation systems or even condensation on pipes and appliances.
When cold temperatures hit, rodent infestations rise. Rats and mice will seek warmth, often moving into homes, parked vehicles, and barns. Rodents may begin storing caches of food in multiple areas nearby to see them through the cold season, and they will build nests to stay warm and cozy.
Long periods of time with little precipitation can lead to many issues. Drought conditions mean increased competition for food amongst animals and insects, and the need to travel further to find it. You may notice increased pest activity, such as ants invading new areas around your home as they search for food sources. Other insects, such as cockroaches, require moisture and may move indoors to find it during periods of dry weather.
Flooding that results from rapid snowmelt in the spring, or following heavy rainfall can wreak havoc for all living things. Ant colonies that are made up of underground tunnels will be destroyed, but the ants themselves have incredible survival instincts. Check out how fire ants form a raft to survive raging floodwaters! Anything that survives will be looking to rebuild as soon as the immediate danger has passed. The standing water that is left behind creates an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes as well.
The consequences of wildfires impact bugs and rodents too. They will be looking for a new home once the smoke clears, and it’s likely that their natural predators will have abandoned the area. Pest populations may grow as the region recovers, so you may encounter more rats, mice, and ants.
So, Can Weather Affect Pests?
Clearly, the answer is yes. Pest activity will become more erratic when weather patterns are unpredictable. Keeping up with pest prevention around the home is one small step you can take to prepare for the unexpected. Make sure there are no holes, cracks, or other openings around your home that bugs, rats, or mice may use to get inside. Eliminate anything that may attract insects and other pests such as unsealed pet food, bird feeders, excess debris, or overflowing trash. Finally, protect your property with botanical pest repellents like Stay Away®.
Although pest prevention may not be the priority immediately following a natural disaster, keeping your home pest free can help to stop these unwelcome guests from finding shelter in your home. When faced with uncertainty, you can reduce stress and anxiety by preventing infestations before they become a problem.